DeLoG conducted a Joint Learning Event, providing insights on the nexus between local governance and sustaining peace in fragile and conflict-affected settings. The event was jointly organised by the DeLoG Secretariat, UNDP, UNICEF, and Swiss Development Cooperation and took place on 12 – 15 March in Brussels, hosted by the Belgian Development Agency Enabel.
27 participants from 23 countries, representing 12 development cooperation organisations discussed the nexus between local governance and sustaining peace in fragile and conflict-affected settings. The course (mainly) focused on three thematic components:
- Overview of the local governance and sustaining peace nexus
- Local governance for service delivery
- Local governance for social cohesion.
Expert presentations on these focus subjects were given by Joshua Rogers (Berghof Foundation),
Aoife McCullough (ODI – global research programme SLRC, Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium), and Dion van den Berg (PAX for Peace). Seth Kaplan (John Hopkins University, USA) gave an additional input on the nexus between cities and peace in fragile contexts.
These subject-based presentations were complemented by case studies from a Joint UN Programme on Local Governance & Decentralised Service Delivery in Somalia and a GIZ programme from Eastern Ukraine. One of the key findings from the Somalia case study: “Local governments are emerging as credible service delivery partners and should feature more prominently in the development strategies of governments, donors and implementing agencies.” Maik Matthes presented the GIZ programme “Initiatives for the Infrastructure Programme for Ukraine”, stressing the importance of an integrated approach when implementing a programme in a conflict-affected or fragile context. Challenges, public opinion, key actors and priorities related to IDPs were at the heart of the follow-up discussion.
The discussions during the learning event were complemented by other specific examples from the countries represented in the course (e.g. Pakistan, Venezuela, Philippines, Macedonia, Lebanon, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Niger, Bangladesh). Participants agreed that effective local governance can sustain peace, enhance the delivery of social services and strengthen the social contract. Once again, the importance of LRRD (Linking Relief Rehabilitation and Development) was stressed.
The following were some of the key understandings:
- Social cohesion and institutionalisation are essential building blocks of a strong social contract and pathway to peace.
- To be effective, social cohesion programming needs to tackle both social inclusion and social capital and not focus solely on the latter, especially at the local level.
- Local governance bears great importance for rebuilding social cohesion.
- Societies with more social capital and cohesion have more ability to demand.
Special focus in discussions has been also put on women and youth. In that regard, as participants concluded, there is a distinction between community empowerment and community participation, with a need to design and pursue programme policies accordingly to avoid the threat of marginalisation. Institutionalisation of youth participation was questioned, as it has potential both to aggravate and improve the situation.
The methodology of the course was built around the peer-to-peer aspect and aimed to increase participants’ engagement through group work, debates, presentations, interviews and role plays.
These four-day course provided room for knowledge and experience sharing from the donor’s perspective and content-related informal networking between participants. We hope that after returning to their duty stations, participants will be able to apply the expertise and advice from colleagues gained during the joint learning.